Army Staff Sgt. Travis Blair has been deployed for 9 months. His absence is incredibly difficult for his wife Emily and their 3 small children. Earlier this month, SGT Blair’s kids got a special gift. Thanks to a partnership with OSD and the Austin Bold FC, they attended a game and saw defender and Texas native London Woodberry sporting a jersey with their dad’s name on the back. This generous gesture meant a great deal to the Blair family and deservedly boosted their spirits with an unforgettable memory.
“To have the community get behind us for something like this is a good feeling,” Emily told OSD Chief Community Officer Scott Morrison
Woodberry wasn’t alone. Each Austin Bold player sported a jersey with a military member’s name on the back. The jerseys honoring deployed members from Central Texas were presented to families in attendance.
The night also meant a ton to the Austin Bold players as well. During the first half, Austin Bold Forward and native Austinite Kris Tyrpak headed in a goal. Pumping his fist he immediately ran to the grandstands to point to the name on the back of his jersey, SPC Drew Wise.
He posted on Instagram the next day, “I had the privilege of wearing SPC Drew Wise’s name on the back of my jersey this past weekend. Normally I would never point to the name on the back of my jersey after scoring a goal because I’ve always been told the name on the front is more important than the name on the back. This time, however, was different, this time it was to honor a man who has honored & served his country!”
The night also paid honor to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. In attendance were the parents of Sgt Byron Norwood who was killed in the line of duty. Sgt Norwood would have celebrated his 40th birthday in August. Always a fan of soccer his father told us “they couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present for their son.”
Casey Edwards, Coordinator of Corporate Partnerships for the Bold, noted, “Austin Bold’s inaugural Military Night was a huge success – over 500 active Military and Veterans redeemed free tickets, courtesy of Michelob Ultra, while each player was able to wear the last name of a service member on the back of their jersey, thanks to our partnership with OSD. With OSD’s help, these game-worn jerseys will be shipped overseas to the deployed soldiers, while six of them were hand-delivered by the players to the families of some of these active soldiers after the game. The response from these families, the players, and the fans was incredible and we can’t wait to grow this initiative next season. We already have Armed Forces Day (Saturday, May 16) circled on the schedule for next year.”